'American Idol' Finalist Jessica Sanchez Has Roots In Bataan

LOS ANGELES - ''Oh, my baby!'' Editha Sanchez, the charming mother of Jessica Sanchez exclaimed as she watched her eldest daughter being interviewed by the press on the ''blue carpet'' at the recently-concluded ''American Idol'' Finalists after-party held at the The Grove rooftop parking structure.

Jessica, 16, a petite belter and powerhouse Filipino-Mexican-American singer, just made it to the top 13 of the number one reality singing contest here in Los Angeles, the ''American Idol.''

Born in San Diego, Jessica's maternal grandmother is from Manila and her maternal grandfather is from Bataan. Her mom, Editha, also hails from Bataan. Her dad, Gilbert, a Mexican-American, originally hailed from Texas.

''He is home with my two other children,'' the very shy Editha said.

In an exclusive interview, we talked to Jessica and asked her where she got her soulful style. ''I really don't know,'' she admitted. ''But I do love Celine Dion and Beyoncé,'' she added.

Among Filipino singers, Jessica revealed that she likes Sarah Geronimo. ''I like her style of singing,'' the long-haired Jessica said. She was dressed in a tight brown dress and wearing stylish lacey matching beige high heels.

Asked if she knew any Tagalog word, Jessica said, ''The only words I know is 'Mahal kita!''' Jessica revealed that she has not been to the Philippines yet but ''I would love to visit one of these days.''

She told us that the most difficult part of being a finalist in ''American Idol'' is ''seeing your friends leave. I have become friends with a lot of them and it hurts to see your friends go.''

Asked what she would tell her fans both in the Philippines and in the U.S., Jessica said, ''I love you so much! Thank you very much for all your support!''

When we told Editha that a number of fans are praying for the success of Jessica and are voting for her, she said, ''Oh, I am so touched. Thank you very much!''

When we asked her where she thinks Jessica got her ''big voice,'' Editha simply smiled and said, ''I really do not know because nobody in the family sings.''

After being interviewed, Jessica immediately went to a group of young fans who asked for her autograph and souvenir photos with her.

For the semi-finals, Jessica sang Jennifer Hudson's ''Love You I Do'' which earned her a standing ovation among judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, and a coveted spot in the top 13.

That day, Jessica was even complaining of a sore throat. But the show must go on and Jessica wowed the audiences.

Jessica, who said that she has been singing all her life, first joined ''America's Got Talent'' when she was only 11 years old. She impressed audiences and judges then with her cover of ''I Surrender.''

Five years later, she is now a finalist in ''American Idol'' Season 11 and has even impressed Jennifer Hudson who has watched her.

Jessica is a high school student and hopes that she would be able to help the family and her mom who is currently unemployed.

The other finalists include Phillip Phillips, Heejun Han, Skylar Laine, Hollie Cavanaugh, Colton Dixon, Jermaine Jones, Joshua Ledet, Shannon Magrane, Elise Testone, Deandre Brackensick, Jeremy Rosado, and Erika Van Pelt.

E-mail the writer at jrnepales_624@yahoo.com for your comments and questions.